Last spring Robert and I went to Berlin on our way to Copenhagen. It was a convenient stop over and a wonderful place to explore museums. Several museums are conveniently located together on an island in the Spree River, within walking distance of other architecturally interesting buildings and our hotel in West Berlin. I had forgotten to write about my experience until I read Thomas Jayne’s blog Ancient and Modern Decoration where he wrote about his recent trip to the Neues Museum and his infatuation with Nefertiti.
The Neues Museum was nearly destroyed during the the Second World War and has recently been restored where possible and reconstructed where necessary by the architect David Chipperfield. His goal was to preserve as much of the museum as possible while adding to its continuity through thoughtfully introduced design elements. The result is a breathtaking combination of historic relics and clean and discrete modern elements. The restoration has just been awarded the Mies van der rohe Award for extraordinary restoration. Of course there are many great objects and paintings to observe in the museum, but I became obsessed with the floor mosaics that are original to the building. I am including images with this post because they will become the inspiration for new product development. The designs are classic and timeless, mostly rendered in porcelain tiles.
The second museum we loved on Museum Island was the Pergamon. The Pergamon is actually three museums in one; a Collection of Classical Antiquities, a Museum of Ancient and Near East and a Museum of Islamic Art. I was most interested in the Classical Antiquities for the beautiful collection of ancient mosaics. While the mosaics in the Neues were large scale, porcelain and mid 19th century, those in the Pergamon were miniscule pieces of stone cut by hand with rudimentary tools and meticulously laid in border patterns by skilled artisans as well as grand pictorial formats from the 2nd and 3rd century AD.
I like to write about places I’ve been and things I’ve seen that inspire me. Sometimes it is only color that sets me on a path or sometimes it’s a particular part of a design. However, I have rarely met an ancient mosaic that I don’t love; the designs and fabrications stay in my subconscious ready to emerge when we are creating new mosaic patterns.
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